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Date-Almond Pesto: The Best Thing I Ever Ate…Recently

February 5, 2011 by Joan Nova in Condiments, Events, Italian, Marrying Flavors, Pasta, Uncategorized | 16 Comments

2011 officially started off with a fabulously decadent New Year’s Eve dinner of caviar and blinis, foie gras, and a perfectly steamed 2-lb. lobster (per person).

I didn’t think it could get any better — and maybe it hasn’t, but that meal was the genesis for this lip-smacking and unique sweet and savory pesto.

With such an extravagant meal (not to mention ?# glasses of champagne), I could not finish my lobster so I went home with leftovers (the whole tail and 2 claws). I know that’s what most people eat first but I’ve always had a “Hoover” approach to eating lobster, sucking out the carcass and going from there.

So one day not long after the holiday (who could wait?), I popped the tail out of the freezer for my dinner.

The leftovers.

My plan was to just have it on bed of arugula with a vinaigrette. That was the plan. But once I started pulling out ingredients to make a vinaigrette, my mind went to a pesto I’d been thinking about for a while.

Like an old Italian nonna, I make pesto with my hands and eyes.
large handful or two of fresh Italian parsley
small handful of dates
small handful of almonds
1 small garlic clove
1 star anise
about 1 tsp of fennel seed
olive oil
splash of rice vinegar for acid

…but, the popular method for pesto is 2 cups of herb to 1/2-2/3c of olive oil, 1/4c of nuts and 1/2c grated cheese plus seasonings.

Note: For this pesto, I changed up the usual dry seasonings and I did not add cheese — so maybe it could also be considered a savory jam, but in my head it was pesto…and you’ll see why below.

I don’t have the proverbial sweet tooth but I do have a penchant for sweet when it’s mixed with savory — and especially if that sweet is fruit-derived, like from dates, figs or prunes. This pesto, jam, spread, whatever you want to call it, is a perfect example of that flavor balance.

And, you knew I had to go there, didn’t you? Yes, I did. The next day the remainder just had to be used with pasta.

Linguine with date-almond pesto and fried bread crumbs was the best thing I ever ate…recently!

This is my entry for More Than Burnt Toast’s event which Val promises will spotlight ‘knock-your-socks-off’ dishes from bloggers. To be published the end of February.

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!

16 Comments

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  1. bellini says:

    This does sound like something we could all get our teeth in to Joan. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Looks like I have succeeded my pesto Queen crown:D

  2. redkathy says:

    The pesto queen I say! This is over the top fabulous Joan.

    BTW – Your anchovies and caper pesto is marvelous! I did use the recipe on Christmas Eve. That pasta dish turned out to be my personal favorite.

  3. Torwen says:

    wow, that’s really inventive!

    It looks so fabulous with the linguine. And it is nice that your memory of the best food is actually a vegetarian one :)

  4. A very unique pesto with dates and almonds, I like that flavor combination! It sounds great with both the lobster and the linguine!

  5. Fantastic idea. I love to see different kinds of pesto. Almonds are my favorite food.

  6. Liz says:

    Wow! Looks great.

  7. I am definitely trying this combination of flavours as the mixture hit my sensory core as YUMMERS, too!
    I love it when an unsuspecting combination works! I find dates are particularly yummy with a variety of savoury mixes.
    I also love Val’s initiative and cannot wait to see what the round up is like!
    :)
    Valerie

  8. I don’t have a sweet tooth either, but I do love the combination of savory and sweet.
    Sam

  9. Maria says:

    I made a plain old parsley almond pesto recently, that just won’t finish. But I am very much liking the sweet addition of dates! I love savory/sweet dishes too and this is a perfect way to add a touch of sweetness to a savory dish.

  10. I love the dates in it……and the fact that you make pesto with your eyes, that’s the best way to cook

  11. Rich says:

    Wow. I don’t think I could add anything to that. No insight, no witty comment … you’ve pretty much once again achieved awesome.

  12. Muy creative Joan! I love this approach…I love to go by feel as well. The sweet addition of dates really lifts this off the plate!

  13. sara says:

    Yum, this looks really tasty! I also love sweet-savory combos and this sounds fantastic. :)

  14. norma says:

    I can see why….

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